Former M.V. tennis instructor faces more charges in admissions scandal

1
Gordon Ernst, shown here at Vineyard Youth Tennis in 2004, faces even more charges in the massive college admissions scandal.

A former Island tennis instructor is facing even more charges in the national college entrance scandal, which has put celebrity Felicity Huffman behind bars, according to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office on Tuesday.

Gordon (“Gordie”) Ernst, former director of Vineyard Youth Tennis, was accused in March of accepting $2.7 million in bribes to help children of wealthy parents — some of whom never picked up a tennis racket competitively — get into Georgetown University. Ernst left Vineyard Youth Tennis in 2006 to take the job of head tennis coach at Georgetown, though he still owned a condo nearby in Falmouth.

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury returned even more indictments against Ernst, who appears to be a central figure in the scandal.

Ernst, Donna Heinel, Jorge Salcedo, Mikaela Sanford, Jovan Vavic, Niki Williams, and William Ferguson have been charged with conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, and honest services mail and wire fraud, in connection with the previously charged scheme to accept bribes and engage in other forms of fraud to facilitate cheating on standardized admissions tests and to secure the admission of students to elite universities by designating them as purported athletic recruits or members of other favored admissions categories, according to a press release on the U.S. Attorney’s website. Ernst, along with five other defendants, faces “substantive wire and honest services wire fraud charges in connection with the scheme.” 

According to the release, Ernst is one of three individuals who face new charges of conspiring to commit federal programs bribery by soliciting and accepting bribes to facilitate the admission of students to the universities where they worked. Ernst is also charged with “substantive counts of federal programs’ bribery and money laundering.”

No arraignment dates have been set on the new charges.

Ernst faces 10 to 20 years in prison on the various charges, as well as fines of $250,000 or “twice the gross gain or loss” on several of the charges he faces.